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Expedite standards for anti-pollution masks, experts say

EXPERTS are calling for the early release of a national standard for anti-pollution masks for the public as smog has been choking large parts of the country for several days.

Currently there is no standard on masks for civil use in China, but only for masks for clinical and industrial use.

Consumers should take care when picking masks because many that claim to filter tiny PM2.5 pollutants have little effect in blocking the particles, said Tao Ailian, executive deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission.

The commission tested 17 masks bought randomly online and at stores late last year and found that for more than half, the protective properties claimed were exaggerated.

There is no national standard to help the public determine how effective such masks are in fending off air pollution in general and, in particular, PM2.5 pollutants, which are small particles especially dangerous since they can lodge deep in the respiratory system and enter the bloodstream.

The market of masks for civil use in China is chaotic with sales of low quality and fake masks rampant, while masks for industrial use are not suitable for people like seniors, children and pregnant women, said Zhao Danqing, chief executive officer of Sinotextiles Co, one of the nation’s biggest mask producers and maker of Ludun brand masks.

The China Nonwoven and Industrial Textiles Association has finished a draft proposal on masks for civil use, which is expected to be submitted to the Standardization Administration of China, but the timing for approval of a standard is not known. 

Smog lingering over large parts of China has boosted demand for masks and air purifiers, with around 870 million yuan (US$141 million) spent on the items last year, online shopping site Taobao revealed.


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